Whenever I hear of someone who has been put on bed rest, my first reaction is something along the lines of, I would go crazy lying in bed for days on end. Well, as it turns out, not all bed rest prescriptions are created equal. For some women, bed rest might be a little more flexible term than others. If you've never been on bed rest, you're probably wondering about what things you can do on bed rest — outside of your bed.
As it turns out, bed rest can involve many more things than just, well, resting in bed, but it depends on the severity of your condition. In fact, the benefits of very strict and limited bed rest are starting to be questioned, according to Adrienne Zertuche, an obstetrician and gynecologist at Atlanta Women's Healthcare Specialists. She explains, "In the past, many obstetricians recommended bed rest for women with preterm contractions (early labor), elevated blood pressures (e.g. preeclampsia), and other complications of pregnancy. However, more recently, we have learned that bedrest is in fact not in the best interest of the mother."
Dr. Zertuche went on to elaborate that while having pregnant women rest "may improve blood flow to the baby and therefore increase birth weight, there is no evidence that it decreases the likelihood of preterm delivery." In addition, bed rest can actually cause other problems, such as blood clots and depression. "Bedrest may also lead a mother to be deconditioned; losing fitness and muscle mass can decrease effectiveness of pushing when in labor and can make it harder to care for her newborn and herself."
And that's exactly why many women can actually do more than anticipated while on bed rest. Of course you'll need to check with your doctor for specific instructions, but it's very possible that your doctor will still allow, maybe even encourage, you to enjoy a few of these activities.
Likewise, Dr. Zertuche explained to us that climbing a few flights of stairs each day can keep you conditioned for birth.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, work is still on the cards for some women on bed rest. The Ohio State University Medical Center said that in the most basic level of bed rest, you're still able to work but are encouraged to rest for "one hour in the morning and one hour in the afternoon," in both cases lying on your left side for optimal blood flow to the baby.
The Mayo Clinic outlined that bed rest, when the pregnant woman is still at home and not hospitalized, can involve light activity around the house, "You might be free to move about the house, as long as you avoid lifting children and doing heavy housework," they explained.
Go To A Movie
If your doctor gives you the go-ahead to leave the house, find out exactly what is off limits. Going to a see a movie, or another activity that allows you to sit down instead of walk around, might be the perfect distraction.
Make Out With Your Partner
While sex might be off limits for some women on bed rest (and you should ask your doctor whether this will affect you if she is prescribing bed rest for you), making out with your partner isn't! Bed rest that is designed to limit preterm contractions means you shouldn't be having sex because contractions could be re-started, but you can engage in other intimate activities, so long as they don't involve "nipple or breast preparation" or becoming "sexually stimulated," according to the University of Washington Medical Center.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.